Francis’ death left me in a state of trance

JUST BE - Bernadette Sembrano (The Philippine Star) - April 3, 2016 - 10:00am

The death of my friend Francis Pasion,  the multi-awarded indie director, put me in a state of trance. 

I say this only to my two other friends who are part of our Nagmamahal Kapamilya Viber group. Grace, Ethel, Francis and I were all part of the same show back in 2004 or 2005. At a time when deadlines were the top priority, we would argue, discuss and work on the production of the stories. It was after the show ended that we became quite close. 

It’s the type of friendship wherein you see each other once or twice a year and have the most intimate conversations; the kind of friends that you bump into the corridor and feel so comfortable, so at home, even for a brief moment.

I thought Ethel was misinformed, or perhaps I was hoping that she was, when she called me on the phone about Francis. 

Death of a dear one is always something that I fear. I don’t worry about Francis because he was the one always in search for the meaning of life. Because he was mindful of his life, of his being, and of creation — he constantly went to retreats, and read books on spirituality and Buddhism — that made him accomplish a lot despite the limited years. He lived his purpose.   

It’s really the pain of us who are left behind that we have to deal with. Reflecting on the life of Jesus Christ and Easter helped me put things in perspective. 

One of my favorite religious authors is James Martin, S.J. He was my go-to author when I wanted to read on something or anything for the Holy Week. Thanks to Kindle, I was able to download his book, The Seven Last Words: An Invitation to a Deeper Friendship with Jesus, at the airport before leaving for Hong Kong last Maundy Thursday. 

For us, Catholics, the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ is the fulfillment of the Scripture. Easter, the Resurrection of Christ, is what gives us hope in moments of despair because Jesus went through what us, humans, go through. Fr. James explained it well in his book by “laymanizing” the Seven Last Words into seven chapters: 1. Jesus Understands the Challenge of Forgiveness; 2. Jesus Understands Doubts About the Afterlife; 3. Jesus Understands a Parent’s Love; 4. Jesus Understands Feelings of Abandonment; 5. Jesus Understands Physical Pain; 6. Jesus Understands Disappointment; and 7. Jesus Understands Self-Offering

Fr. James was quick to emphasize that the life of Christ was not merely that of suffering. Many times it was also Joyful like the Mysteries of the Rosary. The suffering of Christ with us allows us to open up to Jesus, to talk to him and to pray and to have a more intimate relationship with Him because He understands us fully like no one else on earth possibly can. 

Fr. James says this is what Jesus so desires, that we be in communion with Him. It gives me comfort to have a friend in Jesus who listens when we have problems, but it’s also quite cool to think that I can also laugh with Jesus, as we would with a dear friend.

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